West Chester University Tree Campus USA

West Chester University Tree Campus USA

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”  John Muir

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”   Mahatma Gandhi

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

A gathering of tree tenders.

West Chester University was named Tree Campus USA. A ceremony of dedication was planned by School’s Administration during Earth Week and specifically on Arbor Day. 

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

Formal dedication of the Tree Campus USA with the great Bartram Oak standing behind.

In order to qualify for Tree Campus USA status, an institution of higher learning must submit an application that demonstrates they have adhered to a set of five standards: 

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

The office of the President of West Chester University. Mr. and Mrs. Greg Weisenstein with Mr. and Mrs. John Bartram.

Standard 1—Establish a Campus Tree Advisory Committee. This committee must include a representative from the undergraduate or graduate student body, faculty, facility management, and the community at large. 

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

John and Ann Mendenhall Bartram near the gothic arcade.

Standard 2—Manage a Campus-wide Tree Care Plan. From a clearly stated purpose, goals and objectives will be outlined. Responsibility and accountability will be defined. 

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

A true photographic opportunity.

Standard 3—Campus Tree Program with Dedicated Annual Expenditures. The hard work of establishing any garden is the money required to plant and maintain it. A suggested budget of $3.00 per student is a base line. In fact, the national average among recognized Tree Campuses is currently $9.00 to $11.00 per student. That is an empowering statement of intent. 

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

The Earth Day celebration carried over onto the Campus Quadrangle.

Standard 4—Celebrate Arbor Day. I was present to witness the monumental undertakings that the college had put in place.

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

A War Reinactment and conflict of interesting peoples.

They had a grand military reenactment, a quad-full of earth day student organizations, and the recognition of their Bartram Oak. With John Bartram. Outstanding! 

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

Schedule 5 has students, faculty and the community planting trees on the West Chester University Campus

Standard 5—Development of a Service Learning Project. At West Chester, the student body was actively involved in a series of tree planting and gardening projects. This was a very life-affirming group of young adults. 

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

In the wilderness searching for colonies of wild Ginseng.

After the ceremony, I was shown the wilderness preserve. It was the spring season when the forest floor was coming alive. The curator of the wilds directed me to an area fenced off as protection from deer predation. The fencing was protecting wild Ginseng. 

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

In the Darlington Herbarium, perusing Humphrey Marshall’s collection of Bartram’s Garden Franklinia alatamaha.

Lastly, the director of the herbarium unlocked the door to a room of wonder. Behind locked metal doors on cabinets lining the walls were books filled with hundreds of dried examples of natural botanical history. A book was brought out and placed on the clean steel surface in front of me. It was the collection samples gathered by Humphrey Marshall from Bartram’s Garden. 

Humphrey was my cousin. Our mothers were sisters. He had a collection of native specimens in a botanical garden he created in Marshallton. In 1785, he published Arboretum Americanum: the American Grove, an Alphabetical Catalogue of Forest Trees and Shrubs, Natives of the American United States. 

And there in my hands was the result of his passionate dedication to collecting. From my garden. And possibly a leaf and flower from the first successfully cultivated Franklinia Altamaha.

John Bartram, Kirk R. Brown, Humphrey Marshall, West Chester University, Tree Campus USA, Darlington Herbarium

The surprise of coming up against a Franklinia leaf collected from Bartram’s Garden in the first generation of its discovery.

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